Espresso Brownie Bites

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In case you haven’t noticed, I have a lot of baking pans. All different shapes and sizes. I have round pans and square pans, three different sizes of bundt pans, loaf pans, madeleine pans, and sheet pans galore. And I have muffin pans in jumbo, standard, and mini. So you’d think I’d be all set when it comes to baking pans. And I was. Until I encountered this:

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It’s a micro-mini muffin pan, and I was instantly smitten. See how tiny the wells are? So cute!!!

But what to bake in it? I’m fairly sure that a dense batter will always be necessary, because overly fluffy cakes would have no substance and might be too airy to release cleanly. For my inaugural bake, I decided to go straight to the densest type of recipe– a brownie from my favorite chocolate author, Alice Medrich. To give it an extra jolt of flavor (got to go intense for such tiny bites!) I added instant espresso powder to the mix. And then some chocolate ganache. And then coffee beans on top, because why not?

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Chocolate Decadence Cake

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I definitely inherited my love of chocolate from my dad– he’s a huge fan of chocolate, the darker the better, and back when the extra-dark chocolates weren’t widely available I remember him melting semisweet and unsweetened together to make his own bittersweet chocolate blocks, which he kept in the freezer and which I totally never pilfered for snacks… (whistles innocently)

In any case, when his birthday comes around, that’s my excuse to come up with rich, dark, decadent chocolate cake, the blacker the better. Having gone through the standard flourless chocolate cake recipes, a recipe involving layers of whipped and melted ganache, and an extremely dark chocolate ice cream (caused by my inadvertently doubling the amount of cocoa I was supposed to use… it was fabulous), this year I wanted to try something a little different.

This creation isn’t exactly a cake– or rather, it’s not just a cake. It’s really a combination/adaptation of three recipes I’ve had on the blog before– the basic chocolate cake, the nutella crunchies, and the easiest chocolate mousse ever. But they combine to make a fabulous amalgamation of flavors and textures that is a one-of-a-kind chocolate experience.

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Chocolat Chaud (French-style hot chocolate)

While I was in Paris I took the opportunity to try a cup of the world-famous chocolat chaud at Angelina’s sumptuous tearoom on Rue Rivoli. Let me just say, its fame was well-earned– the chocolate was rich, smooth, and dark, with just the right amount of sweetness. Unlike some people who have tried it, I didn’t think it tasted like a melted chocolate bar– on the contrary, it was just milky enough not to be cloying, and not too thick. Really, it was excellent, and while I have my own hot cocoa recipe for winter days, I thought it would be nice to have another version in my recipe box for special occasions.

Of course, the internet yielded a plethora of recipes, each purporting to replicate French-style hot chocolate but each one different. I decided to try a few to see which came closest to what I remembered.

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